Smells Like Fall (Pumpkin Bread Recipe)

This blog post was featured on Momma Blogger, so that is the reason for the intro ūüôā Hope you enjoy!

Hi, I’m Jenny and I blog over at SweetBakesandBabyCakes. I am a Mom to one very sweet little boy and expecting another at the end of December! When I’m not busy taking care of my son (which doesn’t seem to be very often ūüėČ I love to bake, and Fall is my favorite season so when Susan approached me about being featured on Momma Blogger I jumped at the opportunity as it gave me a reason to test out a new pumpkin bread recipe I’ve been dying to try!

Cooks Illustrated is a magazine/website we subscribe to that is sort of my “go to” when I’m looking to try a new recipe that I want to be great. I love that they test and re-test until they get exactly the results they are looking for, and that they institute the science behind the cooking. I can honestly say that I have never made a recipe of theirs’ that I did not thoroughly enjoy.
Although this bread is not something that can be thrown together in a matter of minutes, I can assure you that the prep time is well worth the end result! The bread came out perfectly moist with just the right amount of “pumpkin-y” (yes I’m pretty sure I just made that word up) flavor; and I’m so glad the recipe yielded two loaves because I have another one in the freezer ready to pull out the next time we have company! Not to mention, it made my house smell divine while it was baking.

You Will Need: Two 8.5 x 4.5 inch loaf pans. If you are using 9×5″ pans (which I did) just start checking for doneness about 5 minutes before the timer goes off

For the Topping: 
5 tablespoons packed (2 1/4 ounces) light brown sugar

1 tablespoon all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon unsalted butter, softened

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon salt

For the Bread: 
2 cups (10 ounces) all-purpose flour

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1(15-ounce) can unsweetened pumpkin puree (make sure you do not get the pumpkin pie mix)

1 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/8 teaspoon ground cloves

1 cup (7 ounces) granulated sugar

1 cup packed (7 ounces) light brown sugar

1/2 cup vegetable oil

4 ounces cream cheese, cut into 12 pieces

4 large eggs

1/4 cup buttermilk

1 cup walnuts, toasted and chopped fine


FOR THE TOPPING: Using your fingers, mix all ingredients together in bowl until well combined and topping resembles wet sand; set aside.

FOR THE BREAD: Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees.

1. Grease two 8 1/2 by 4 1/2-inch loaf pans. Whisk flour, baking powder, and baking soda together in bowl

2. Combine pumpkin puree, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves in large saucepan over medium heat. Cook mixture, stirring constantly, until reduced to 1¬Ĺ cups, 6 to 8 minutes.

3. Remove pot from heat; stir in granulated sugar, brown sugar, oil, and cream cheese until combined. Let mixture stand for 5 minutes. Whisk until no visible pieces of cream cheese remain and mixture is homogeneous.

4. Whisk together eggs and buttermilk. Add egg mixture to pumpkin mixture and whisk to combine.

5. Fold flour mixture into pumpkin mixture until combined (some small lumps of flour are OK).

6. Fold walnuts into batter. Scrape batter into prepared pans.

7. Sprinkle topping evenly over top of each loaf.

8. Bake until skewer inserted in center of loaf comes out clean, 45 to 50 minutes. Let breads cool in pans on wire rack for 20 minutes. Remove breads from pans and let cool for at least 1¬Ĺ hours.

Serve warm or at room temperature adding butter or cream cheese as you please (In my opinion the bread doesn’t need any of that) The brown sugar crumb topping seeped down into the bread and gave it just the right amount of sweetness it needed to be delicious all by itself.

Happy Fall, Enjoy!


Guinness Cupcakes with Baily’s Frosting

I hope everyone enjoyed their weekend!¬† Our weather here has been absolutely beautiful for the past several days so we spent quite a bit of time outside, but I did manage to try out this new recipe in honor of St. Patty’s Day.

I realize that had I been thinking clearly I would have done this post prior to St. Patrick’s Day, but I didn’t decide I wanted to try out¬†these¬†little bits of yummyness until the day of, and just because they have Guinness and Baily’s in them doesn’t mean that they can only be enjoyed on the actual St Patrick’s Day Holiday.¬† They were easy to make and very tasty.¬† However, I do believe that if you were to have a couple in one sitting that you could get a little bit buzzed.¬† So please enjoy….in moderation ūüôā

I borrowed this recipe from SuzyBakes, (posted below) but¬†actually cut it in half because I knew there was no¬†possible way we would finish 2 dozen cupcakes.¬† FYI….if you would like to cut the recipe in half as well I highly reccommend converting the measurements into ounces, and using your food scale because it’s much easier to use half of 6oz then it is to try and measure half of 3/4c¬†etc.

For the (full recipe) cupcakes you will need

1 bottle Guinness

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter

3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

2 cups all purpose flour

2 cups sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

3/4 teaspoon salt

2 large eggs

2/3 cup sour cream


  • Combine your flour, sugar, baking soda and salt into a large bowl and set aside.
  • Bring Guinness and butter to a simmer in large saucepan¬† over medium heat.
  • Add cocoa powder and whisk until mixture is smooth.¬† Cool slightly.
  • Beat eggs and sour cream in a large bowl with an electric mixer.
  • Add Guinness-chocolate mixture to egg mixture and beat until just combined.
  • Add flour mixture and beat on¬†low speed.
  • Use a rubber spatula to make sure all ingredients are thoroughly combined
  • Divide¬† batter among cupcake liners, filling them 2/3 to 3/4 of the way.
  • Bake at 350 degrees for 17 minutes rotating about half way through¬†until your cake tester, inserted into center comes out clean,
  • Cool¬† cupcakes on a rack completely before frosting.

For the Frosting:

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened

 3 to 4 cups confectioners’ sugar

3 tablespoons Bailey’s Irish Cream

1 tablespoon milk


  1. Place the butter in a  mixing bowl and beat until creamy.
  2. Gradually add the sugar, 1 cup at a time, beating well¬† after each addition, until the icing is¬† thick enough to be of good consistency. You may not need to add all of¬† the sugar. (I probably used about 2 cups and my icing was creamy, not stiff, but that’s how I like it)
  3. After all sugar has been added, add Bailey’s and milk and blend until just combined.
  4. Frost once cupcakes are completely cooled and decorate as you wish

The cupcakes were deliciously rich¬†with¬†just a hint of Guinness flavor, and the sweetness of the sugar blended pefectly with the Baily’s to balance out the entire cupcake….although, just like any chocolate dessert, I highly reccommend a nice cold glass of milk to go along with it!

Have you ever used beer or another flavored liquor to bake with???

If so…please share ūüôā


I came across yet another fantastic recipe¬†from Cook’s Illustrated a few years ago when I was searching for something sweet but a little different for me to bring to a bridal shower.¬† I had the All Time Best issue and decided to try their Blondies Recipe.¬†

You will need…

  • 1cup pecans or walnuts (4 ounces)
  • 1 1/2cups unbleached all-purpose flour (7 1/2 ounces)
  • 1teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2teaspoon table salt
  • 12tablespoons unsalted butter ( 1 1/2 sticks), melted and cooled
  • 1 1/2cups packed light brown sugar (10 1/2 ounces)
  • 2 large eggs , lightly beaten
  • 4teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 6ounces white chocolate chips (1 cup) or chopped bar, or 3 ounces each white chocolate and semisweet chocolate chips

1.¬† Pre-Heat your oven to 350 and line a 13×9″ baking dish with two sheets of aluminum foil overlapping one another and hanging over the edges to make for easy transfer from the pan to the cutting board.¬†¬†Coat aluminum foil with nonstick spray and set aside.¬†

If your nuts are not already toasted you’ll need to put them on a cookie sheet and pop them into the oven for a few minutes (until they’re fragrant.¬†

2.  Whisk flour, baking powder, and salt together in medium bowl; set aside.

3.  Whisk melted butter and brown sugar together in medium bowl until combined. Add eggs and vanilla and mix well. Use a rubber spatula to fold dry ingredients into egg mixture until just combined making sure to not over mix 

Fold in chocolate and nuts and turn batter into prepared pan, smoothing top with rubber spatula.

4.   Bake until the top is shiny, cracked, and light golden brown about 22 to 25 minutes.  Be careful not to overbake or else your blondies will be dry, and fall apart. 

Cool on wire rack to room temperature. Remove bars from pan by lifting foil overhang and transfer to cutting board. Cut into 2-inch squares and serve.

The recipe is relatively easy to follow, and these tasty treats are sure to be a hit wherever you may take them!

Are you a Brownie or a Blondie type of Person?

Homemade Blueberry Muffins with Streusel Topping

If you’re like me and enjoy skipping the boxed mix for cakes, cupcakes, brownies and¬†muffins, when you can ūüėČ but prefer a recipe to help you out a bit, then you need to know about Cook’s Illustrated.

If you’re not familiar¬†it’s¬†published by the people from America’s Test Kitchen, so there is a lot of trial and error and science behind their cooking, (perfect for my Hubby who loves to know how and why things work) We’ve tried several of their recipes and haven’t had a bad one yet!

So here is the Cook’s Illustrated recipe for:

Best Blueberry Muffins with Streusel Topping

Streusel Topping

  • 3tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 3tablespoons dark brown sugar
  • Pinch table salt
  • 1/2cup plus 3 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour¬†(3 1/2 ounces)
  • 5tablespoons unsalted butter , melted and warm

I find that when I’m baking and I measure by weight, that my recipes turn out better because the ingredients are more precise.¬† You can use a food scale, just be sure to tare the scale after you place whatever receptacle you’ll be placing your ingredients in on it.

Instructions for the topping:

Stir together sugar, brown sugar, salt, and flour in small bowl until combined. Drizzle with warm butter and toss with fork until evenly moistened and mixture forms large chunks with some pea-sized pieces throughout. Set aside.


  • 2cups fresh blueberries (about 10 ounces), washed and picked over
  • 1 1/8cups sugar (8 ounces) plus 1 teaspoon
  • 2 1/2cups¬†unbleached all-purpose flour¬†(12 1/2 ounces)
  • 2 1/2teaspoons baking powder
  • 1teaspoon table salt
  • 2large eggs
  • 4tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter , melted and cooled slightly
  • 1/4cup vegetable oil
  • 1cup buttermilk
  • 1 1/2teaspoons vanilla extract

*Did you know that if you don’t have buttermilk on hand that you can substitute 3/4 cup of yogurt thinned with 1/4 cup of milk???¬† I didn’t but it worked…and it saved me a trip back to the store!!!


Heat your oven to 425 degrees and spray your muffin tin with nonstick cooking spray

Bring 1cup of blueberries and 1teaspoon of sugar to simmer in a small saucepan over medium heat.  Stir frequently while cooking and mash the berries with a spoon until they have broken down and the mixture is thickened and reduced to 1/4cup (about 6 min)

Transfer to a small bowl and cool to room temperature 10-15 minutes.

Next, whisk your flour, baking powder, and salt together in large bowl and set aside.

Then whisk 1 1/8 cups sugar and eggs together in medium bowl until thick, about 45 seconds.

Slowly whisk in butter and oil, then the buttermilk and vanilla until combined

Using a rubber spatula, fold the egg mixture

and remaining cup blueberries into flour mixture

Mix until just moistened (being careful not to overmix) your batter should be lumpy

Use an ice cream scoop or a large spoon to divide batter equally among prepared muffin cups (batter should completely fill cups and mound slightly).

Spoon a teaspoon of the cooked berry mixture into center of each mound of batter.

Using a chopstick or skewer, gently swirl berry filling into batter using figure-eight motion.

Sprinkle streusel topping evenly over muffins and bake until muffin tops are golden (about 17 to 19 minutes), rotating muffin tin from front to back halfway through baking time. Cool muffins in muffin tin for 5 minutes,

Then transfer to wire rack and cool 5 minutes before serving

Cut your muffin in half and put a pad of your favorite butter in the middle…

I like to close my muffin back up after I put the butter on it so it melts¬†a little¬†on both sides ūüôā

…or if you prefer your muffins plain that’s fine too because these muffins are so good that they still taste great!¬† And you can enjoy them in the morning with your coffee, or at night with a glass of milk ūüôā

S’Mores Cupcakes

I hope everyone had a great weekend!¬† I know all of my Northern family and friends saw a whole bunch of snow, and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t just a little bit jealous….mostly because I didn’t get to see any snow when I was in town for Christmas this year.¬† My Mom sent me a few pictures and it was beautiful!¬† Don’t get me wrong, I’ll take the sun over the clouds any day, but I do miss the snow time and again.¬†

View from my parents house

Our weekend was nice and relatively quiet, we did stuff around the house and bought some baby-proofing things, and a convertible car seat for Garrett, because he’s almost to the height limit of his infant car seat (where has my little¬†baby gone??)

…but the best part for me was that I got to get into the kitchen and try a new cupcake recipe!!!¬† I had a taste for S’mores, and since it was too cold to start a fire and roast some marshmallows, and Dan was around to help take care of our little man, and because we were going to some friends house for dinner, I had time and a reason¬†to bake and I decided to try a S’mores cupcake recipe!¬†

You will need….

  • 1 Package of your favorite chocolate cupcake mix (cupcake tins and liners)
  • 1 1/3¬†c Water
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/3 c vegetable oil
  • mini-marshmallows (the recipe calls for only 1c¬†but I used 3 mini-mallows for each cupcake, and if I do it again, I may even add more
  • graham crackers (again the recipe calls for 1c, but I just eyeballed it)

Add your cupcake mix, water, eggs, and oil and beat with your electric mixer for 2 minutes

Spoon your batter into baking cups, filling halfway.  Sprinkle 3-5 marshmallows and 3 bite size graham cracker pieces in center and cover with additional batter

Bake 18-20 minutes or until a cupcake tester comes out clean

Let the cupcakes cool for a few minutes in the pan and then move them to a wire rack, and let them cool completely.¬† Once they’re cooled, frost them…

Sprinkle them with some graham cracker crumbs, top them with a Hershey’s chocolate square…

and enjoy!

I was pleased with the flavor of the cupcakes, but I wish there was a little bit more of a pronounced marshmallow flavor.  Next time, I may try to either add more marshmellows inside or perhaps even top them with a marshmallow cream rather than a frosting. 

Overall…..they satisifed my craving, and they were pretty, so I’d say¬†they were a success!

Have you ever made a S’mores Cucake recipe?¬† Were you able to capture that perfectly smokey, and gooey campfire taste?¬† If so how did you do it?

(Chipless) Chocolate Chip Cookies

The Palmer Cousins

I have a¬†pretty large extended family and I grew up in the Midwest, which means that throughout my life I’ve consumed massive amounts of meat and potatoes, and being a Brunner (maiden name)¬†who was fortunate enough to live close to family and have lots of family get togethers; No meal was complete without some kind (or multiple kinds) of desserts.¬† And so my obsession with sweets began at a very early age.

Some of the Brunner Cousins

My Grandma Brunner¬†was the master at preparing enormous quantities of food for our big family¬†and she could bake with the best of them so I looked up to her and just knew that one day I wanted to cook like she did.¬† And still…to this day…my Mom makes the best Chocolate Chip Cookies.¬† She’ll swear that it’s all in the baking sheet…….but watching her for so long made me realize that¬†it’s not just the baking sheet but also¬†the little bit of¬†extra love she adds¬†to every batch¬†: )

I got an Easy Bake Oven for Christmas back in the 1980’s…and the rest is History.

I can’t take credit for this recipe because it’s the Nestle Tollhouse Recipe found on the back of their chocolate chips.¬† However,¬†I know so many people who use this same recipe¬†but regardless I don’t think I’ve had a single batch taste exactly like the previous one¬†prepared by a different person.¬† I guess everyone has their own tips and tricks.

So…here are a few of mine

Nestle Tollhouse (Chipless) and Chocolate Chip Cookies

First things first….preheat your oven to 375 degrees and gather your your ingredients

  • 2 sticks of margarine (or butter) room temperature
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 eggs (room temperature)
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla
  • 2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda (make sure it hasn’t been open more than a month or so)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Chocolate Chips (added to your taste)


Make sure your margarine is soft enough that when you press your finger into it is leaves an indentation, but is¬†not melted.¬† In my experience, if I am in a hurry and try to microwave it to soften it and it melts a little bit…my cookies end up flat and crispy around the edges, rather than light and perfectly fluffy all around. Instead of microwaving try this¬†tip or trick¬†open your¬†margarine and cut into pieces to make it come to temperature more quickly


Add your room temperature margarine brown sugar, sugar, and vanilla¬†into your electric mixer and beat until creamy…then add your eggs one at a time until you have something that resembles this


Combine your flour, baking soda, and salt into a bowl and gradually add it to your sugar mixture, then mix by hand (so you don’t get flour all over the place, and so you don’t over mix your batter)

Line your baking sheet with a silpat mat or parchment paper and first¬†drop chipless cookie dough by rounded spoonfulls onto your sheet (my hubby and my brothers prefer¬†their chocolate chip cookies to be chipless) which basically makes them sugar cookies…..only better : ) and bake for 9-11 minutes depending on your oven

In the mean time…

Give a quick Hello and a Thank You to your Hubby for keeping your son entertained

Add your chips to your remaining cookie dough

Let the delicious smell of your cookies fill your home with sweet goodness as they bake.  Then pull them from the oven, let them cool for a few minutes on the baking sheet and move them to a rack to finish cooling before sealing them in an air tight container, ziploc bag or cookie jar (this helps to keep them soft, chewy, and delicious for days to come)

And Finally…enjoy them after dinner with a big glass of milk : )

What is one of your favorite go to desserts?